Sending your child to uni: what are the costs and benefits?
Cambridge uni by P Donovan
Jonathan Gaiger, a recent Business & Management graduate from the University of Sussex. is currently working as a Marketing Executive for graduate-jobs.com. Having learnt a lot during his three years at university, he would like to share his experience in order to help those who are still unsure if it is right for them, to decide...
There are no graduate jobs, so why should I send my child to university?As the graduate job market isn’t what it used to be, with unemployment on the rise and tuition fees rising, many parents are asking themselves whether their child ought to go to university. A recent poll, run by The Guardian newspaper, indicated 47% of 16-18 year olds went straight into work, bypassing university altogether. The debate currently at hand is this: what is the point of sending your child to university; what can they get out of their time at uni, what are the plus points of earning a degree, and most important of all, where will they stand on the job ladder in years to come?
Heading WestAs a recent graduate, I can vouch for the fact I went all out during my degree - I studied at home and abroad, in the US, for a few months. Taking a year abroad is guaranteed to make a degree stand out from the crowd, and in turn, help your child mature, learn more about themselves, and eventually, where they’d like to live. It’s also a great boost to any CV as employers are always keen on graduates who can prove adaptability and independence. I have been asked many a time by employers about my experiences of studying in the US and it has always impressed! Also, the education system there is incredible, so your child can study and make the most of world-league colleges. Costs may be a worry, but with grants and loans available, going abroad does not have to break the bank. Additionally, with the future rise in tuition fees, you may not find it too dissimilar to financing a year of study in the UK. Many universities in the UK also offer some kind of study abroad programme that lasts a year, so for those who would like a less costly experience, these programmes are ideal – it’s just a question of broadening your options and helping your child to pack!
Looking for jobs in the right placeThe media has given us all a picture of a very bleak graduate jobs market. Big companies tend to make front pages of career sections, with 83 applications per graduate placement. Yet SMEs don’t tend to make the news, despite the fact they take on thousands of graduates each year - across the country. If your child looks outside of the box, so to speak, and spreads his or her interests and CV applications to a variety of companies, and not just the Top Dogs in London, you’ll find the market isn’t too hard to break through, after all.
The university processOf course, university is not the path for everyone. You may be thinking that your child could get the same experience and learn the same skills by going straight into a job. This may be the case; however, I put it to you, does your child know exactly what career to choose? University allows students to explore their options and decide over their degree what profession they would like to pursue and get a general direction in life. This is far more difficult if your child has gone straight into a job and found out later on that they would rather hold a certain career, but are missing the necessary network and/or the experience/degree. As such, a degree will open up several doors to increase your child’s options, should they not know exactly what they want to do.
University also offers another opportunity, to learn new skills. This includes budgeting and, believe me, lessons are learnt quickly! Of course, you can learn this elsewhere but university offers financial advice and a support system which is harder to obtain externally.
The university experience will be different for every student, but I helped run societies, which increased my confidence and I got to discover more about myself. The societies I was involved in often meant I was in close contact with businesses around the local area – essentially, it was like running my own company! There are countless university societies out there, with the University of Manchester, for example, offering more than 200. So what was the result of my university experience? Well, it meant I grew up a lot with a better perspective of the world in an environment that is hard to replicate anywhere else, giving me the direction towards the career I wanted.
What is my personal message to the sceptical parents out there? I have two actually. One is that yes, tuition fees have increased but jobs are still out there, it’s just a question of ignoring the doom and gloom generated by the media. University also offers an array of opportunities, not just to enjoy the social things in life, but also the chance to develop nestling skills, gain confidence, engage in different ways of thinking and help your child decide on a career, with their peers. It is thanks to this particular environment that your child will tackle problems and career swerves differently, across their professional life. So before you decide that it is best for your child to become part of the 47%, give it some close thought first.